ILC international newsletter No. 163

A dossier of weekly information published by the
International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples
December 20, 2005
Issue No. 163
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INTRODUCTION

In this issue, which covers the period of the last two weeks of December 2005, we are publishing a new contribution by Roger Sandri titled, "Some news on the future 'global' trade union organization."

The year 2006 will be key for the future of trade unionism.

With the goal of clarifying the stakes of the merger between the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labor (WCL), we are publishing excerpts from texts of the World Conference of the ILC, which met in Madrid in March 2005, and from the 12th Conference In Defense of the ILO Conventions and Trade Union Independence, which met last June 12 in Geneva.

"More than ever, the working class needs its own independent organizations," notes the declaration of the Madrid Conference. Isn't this still crucially important?

The Geneva Conference alerted the labor movement to the dangers of what is called "corporate social responsibility." Readers can judge for themselves upon reading the analysis of one of these agreements signed by the Arcelor Group.

Finally, it seems useful to us to publish excerpts from the statutes of new confederation such as they were presented at the 26th Congress of the WCL.

The Germany labor activists who are organizing the European Workers Conference in Berlin on February 25 and 26, 2005 have insisted upon the need to address both the workers of the East and West. They explain their reasons for doing so in a contribution, "Is there any other solution than the nationalization of Samsung?"

We are also publishing a contribution from Turkey on the struggle against the privatization of the TUPRAS enterprise.

Correspondents from Ukraine have sent as a contribution to the Berlin conference a leaflet distributed to the workers of the Krivorozhstal metal factory who were part of the delegation to Kiev on the day of the privatization vote by Parliament, "Today your property is being sold. They are taking your work and your bread!"

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EUROPEAN WORKERS CONFERENCE: FEBRUARY 25 AND 26, 2006, BERLIN

The proposal for a European Conference was made by the German labor activists at a time in which their country is confronted with a profound crisis provoked by the constant submission of the government of Schroder and now of the "grand coalition" government to the dictates of the European Union. They have called for contributions to be sent to them from all Europe with the goal of debating points of view and, in this way, preparing the conference. (See Issue 157 of the ILC International Newsletter.)


UKRAINE

"Today your property is being sold. They are taking your work and your bread!"

One year after the "orange" revolution which resulted in Ukraine with the replacement of one mafioso clique coming out of the bureaucracy with another -- all with the help of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) financed by the United States -- a new wave of privatizations is in the works. It has begun with the "re-privatization" of the metallurgic factory Krivorozhstal.

We are re-printing below a leaflet distributed to the workers of the factory, who organized a delegation to Kiev on the day the privatization was voted on by Parliament. This leaflet was sent to us by Ukrainian activists as a contribution to the Berlin Conference.


Comrades, end the pillage!

Today, they are taking from us the biggest heavy industry factory, Krivorozhstal. For a long time, this factory has been the symbol of economic power and prosperity in our country. On a rough terrain, next to the Chervonaja train station, in only three years, an immense enterprise was built. The glorious history of this factory began in August, 1934, when the blast furnace of the Krivorozhstal enterprise, named Komsomol, was lit and began to provide cast iron.

In 1958, with the implementation of blooming 1150, Krivorozhstal became a factory with a full metallurgic production cycle. In 1974, the famous blast furnace number 9 was lit and produced its first cast iron.

It was the most powerful blast furnace in Europe. With the creation of number 9, Krivorozhstal was number one cast iron producer in the USSR - overpassing the Magnitogorsk factory, which was traditionally considered the shining star of the Soviet metal industry.

The highest level of production was reached in 1986, with the production of 12.2 million tons of cast iron, 12.8 million tons of steel, and 10.5 million tons of other metals.

Even after the crisis at the beginning of the 1990s, the factory held firm. Today, the enterprise is operating at almost full capacity; 5 to 6 million tons of metal products are exported every year to about 100 countries.

The Krivorozhstal (KGMK) metal factory is, in Ukraine, the only metal factory which operates a full production cycle: extraction of the minerals, enrichment (by augmenting the iron content), as well as the chemical transformation to coke, production of rolled metal and steel, and cast iron agglomerates.

The KGMK, with 20% of the market shares, is the number one producer of metal goods for the domestic market. Krivorozhstal represents today 20% of the production of iron ore in Ukraine, 22% of coke in Ukraine, 23 % of the cast iron, 15 % of steel, and 16 % of rolled metals.

Comrades, today your property is being sold. They are taking your work and your bread!

The orange powers have decided to resell the factory to foreign capitalists! The Mittal Steel Corporation bought it for 4.8 billion U.S. dollars.

But no need to be concerned with these big numbers. You won't receive any of this sum! All the money will be stolen by thieving ministers, a considerable portion of this sum will go into the pockets of the various mafias, another will end up with the Americans, the IMF, and the European Commission for the debt. There won't be greater pensions and greater salaries, about which the government is speaking. They are tricking you again!

What will the new bosses give you? We have already received information that the new administration of the factory has declared that it makes no sense to maintain the pensions and that it was decided to quickly get rid of the social funds. This means that the child care center, the rest building, the auxiliary farm which provides food products for the canteen, etc. -- all these also will be sold off.

Comrades, remember that Mittal Steel is a multinational corporation. It possesses numerous enterprises in 14 countries. Look at how the workers live in those factories! Thus, Mittal Steel has the goal of laying off every year until 2010 up to 8,000 workers in a factory they purchased in Termitau (Kazakhstan).

In Katowive, in Poland, the workers struck and occupied the factory against Mittal Steel's refusal to follow through with its investment obligations, against the working conditions, and against the massive lay-offs of the workers of the subsidiary companies.

They are aiming to get rid of a large amount of jobs in Kazakhstan (50,000 jobs), in Romania (18,000), in Poland (15,000), in the Czech Republic (12,000), and in South Africa (15,000). The policies implemented by this corporation are leading to social and economic destabilization in several regions.

What can we expect for the Ukrainian enterprise Krivorozhstal? Massive layoffs, the destruction of production, and the liquidation of the social dimension.

Comrades, reject the pillage of your, and your children's, resources!

Krivorozhstal is a factory built by your parents and grandparents. If you don't defend it, tomorrow, your children will have no jobs!

Join the strike committees. Join the Borotba Union cells. Join the struggle for your rights, for the protection of national property. Our goal is the defense and reconquest of the workers' conquests!


SOME NEWS ON THE FUTURE "GLOBAL" TRADE UNION ORGANIZATION

A contribution by Roger Sandri

The draft of the statutes, or bylaws, of the new "global" trade union federation resulting from the merger of the ICFTU and WCL has just been published.

To this day, we still do not know the new name of the new merged federation, which, we were told, you be announced soon.

The new draft does not add anything important, but rather simply extends the modifications to the statutes introduced at the last International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) congress. The new world organization must "work for a new democratic governance of globalization, with the goal creating a more humane and just social and economic order through reform, democratization, and coherence in the actions of the multilateral institutions."

This orientation confirms and, according to its authors, reaffirms "the heritage of the ICFTU and the WCL."

However, if one reads the report on orientation resolution adopted by the 26th Conference of the World Confederation of Labor (WCL), which took place in Houffalize, Belgium, from November 21 to 23,2005 it becomes clear that things are not as simple as they appear. We will return to this later.

On the "new democratic governance of globalization"

Parallel to this, the French CGT is strongly involved in the process of the creation of a new "global" union organizations and acts as the mouthpiece for several organizations still affiliated to the WFTU. We should recall that the WFTU is not affiliated to either the ICFTU or the WCL; the CGT was affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), whose headquarters was in Prague until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

According to Article II of the draft of the statutes, the CGT could belong to the merged federation in a capacity as "associated members." This new Article II, states:

"Article II: Associated Member

"a) The General Council can give the status of associated member to those national union federations which adhere to the principles and objectives but don't fill all the requirements necessary to affiliate to the federation; this decision aims to help them reach these objectives.

b) The General Council deliberates according to the relevant provisions of Article 1 and its decisions are subjected to periodic revisions.

c) the organizations having the status of associate member must conform to the provisions of article 1, but they do not have financial obligations with respect to the confederation.

d) The general council determines the conditions of the participation of these organizations in the activities of the confederation, like in the congresses."

Most of the objectives are not really spelled out.

One of them calls to "develop links and cooperation with other organizations of 'civil society' in the march towards common objectives." The formulation is vague. To have been clear, it would have been necessary to have defined these objectives.

Concerning the last congress of the ICFTU, which took place in Japan at the end of the year 2004, it is noteworthy that the "global" union organization in creation was supposed to define a "political project" together with "civil society" in general, but also, consequently, political parties.

In response to the request of certain national union organizations, principally the CGT-FO in France, an amendment was adopted to downsize the overall project, changing the phrase "political project" to "project of trade union politics." This semantical edit changed absolutely nothing, but did calm down some opposition.

What remains in the principles is the fact that the future "global" union organization should "work for a new democratic governance of globalization, with the goal of the creation of a more humane and just social and economic order through reform, democratization, and coherence in the actions of the multilateral institutions."

Formally, the new "federation," according to the draft of the statutes, "is based on the conviction that human labor is more important than capital and all the other economic elements."

Concerning this theme, the "federation" is convinced "that to promote these values requires a unionism that transforms society, that groups together, and that mobilizes."

Next come the current commonplace phrases concerning sustainable development, the essentials of the "alter-globalizer" movement, as well as the integrationist theme of the "corporate social responsibility." Even if these themes are not officially highlighted, it is clear that this "transformation of society" should be understood in this way, based on the fact that at no time in the draft is the exploitation of wage labor by the forces of capital mentioned.

Upon reading all this, it is not surprising to find in the draft formulations the necessity to create a synthesis between the traditional unionism of the ICFTU and that of the WCL, which is inspired by the "social doctrine of the Church."

This is not a criticism but a simple observation.

The ETUC aims to conserve a very great "regional" autonomy

Concerning Article II of the draft, in a text from November 24, 2005, in the name of the CGT, Hélene Bourneaud and Guy Juquel highlight "the weaknesses of the text.

For the CGT, the draft statutes for a new world organization "should erase all references, even implicit ones, to the past division of the union movement (for example: the new federation stands in the heritage of the ICFTU and the WCL)."

Clearly, the CGT, of a Stalinist past, is searching for new life and thus declares, let's bury the past!

During the ICFTU congress that took place in Japan at the end of 2004, several organizations -- including the CGT-FO -- aired the differences between the founders of the ICFTU and the eventual new members. The amendment was approved by the ICFTU congress.

The text of the CGT raises the role and place of the international union federations. These bodies can keep their rights to participate in the congress of the future international with the right to speak, but only in a purely consultative manner.

The spokesman of the CGT took up the role of the regional organizations, noting a contradiction between real autonomy and formal autonomy.

In a recent article, I discussed the position of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) towards the plans for a new world "federation." The documents of the ETUC express the desire to maintain "regional" autonomy, including even enlarging its influence over the new states of central Europe and even beyond that.

In relation to the international union federation, the growing influence of theses, following the example of Union Network International (UNI), will have its consequences for the future "world federation."

Union pluralism or organic unity of the national union federation?

As a central component of the project for a new "world" federation, the WCL, which comes out of the International Confederation of Christian Trade Unions, just had its 26th congress in Houffalize, Belgium, from November 21 to November 23, 2005.

The congress of the WCL approved, with 85% of the votes, the constitution of a new "world union organization."

From that point on, it was official that on November 1, 2006 in Vienna, Austria, the founding congress of this new "world" organization will take place.

Right before the Vienna congress, the ICFTU and the WCL will hold their own congresses to dissolve their organizations.

As Michel Noblecourt, in Le Monde, notes on December 12, 2005, "far from fusing, the two federation have chosen to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the 'Rome of unionism.'" Noblecourt's formula is certainly not a random one.

If, superficially, it seems that this all revolves around a structural simplification, in reality things are more complicated.

In reference to the WCL congress, unlike the ICFTU, the Christian organizations continually references union pluralism, particularly on the level of national structures, while the leaders of the ICFTU, notably the general secretary Guy Ryder, consider that the world unification of unionism should lead to the organic unity of the all the national union federations.

The congress of the WCL, a component part of "world union unification," tends to favor its past history and its Christian social engagement, in preserving, parallel to the "world" organization, a structure perpetuating Christian unionism, founded on the social doctrine of the Church.

That is why the WCL congress decided to create, parallel to the "world" union organization, a World Social Assembly, notably through the creation "of a foundation to assure the preservation and influence of the unique historical heritage of the WCL, based on a spiritual vision and spiritual values, all references found in the ICFTU-WCL working document on the creation of a new international union organization."

The congress of the WCL also recalled the resolution of the Confederal Committee of Casablanca in 2004, demanding "the implementation of an internal instrument adapted (underlined by the WCL) to the new federation and which is accessible to all those who want to uphold the preservation of the WCL's heritage."

The congress of WCL, through the extension of a World Social Assembly, "favorably supports the initiative taken by several organizations to create a Coalition for Social Development (CDS) with the objective to reinforce everywhere in the world the development of autonomous democratic trade-union organizations engaged on the international level in agreement with the program and the projects developed within the framework of the WCL in the past."

The 26th Congress of the WCL, "invites the other organization inside and outside the WCL who have the will to help the union movement in the South to unite forces and to join the coalition for social development."

In addition, for the congress of the WCL, a system of "social weeks of action" is necessary. These, organized by the Catholic sectors in France, have been put under leadership of Michel Camdessus, former leader of the IMF, and the Dominican order, who are the specialists on social questions inside the Church.

For the WCL, these "social weeks of action" should grow into "European weeks of action" and "International weeks of action."

Thus, the year 2006 will be a crucial year for the future of international unionism.

This proposed merger has turned its back on the great founding principles of proletarian internationalism, based on the understanding that society is divided into social classes with opposed and contradictory interests -- that is, on the one hand, the exploiters of wage labor and, on the other hand, the exploited who are forced to sell their labor to survive.

All the sectors involved in this trade union unification project would be welol advised to reflect before heading down a road that could lead to a dead-end with totalitarian implications. We will return to these themes in 2006.

- Roger Sandri


"For this reason, more than ever, workers must be able to freely form and control their own organizations.

A few clarifications on the ICFTU and WCL's merger plans -- excerpts from the documents and resolutions adopted at the World Conference of the ILC in Madrid and at the 12th Conference In Defense of the ILO Conventions and Trade-Union Independence, which met last June 12 in Geneva

The Final Declaration of the ILC Conference posed a question concerning the upcoming merger between the ICFTU and the WCL:

"Isn't there reason for concern? With these proposed alliances, will the merged future world trade union organization be transformed into a Non-Governmental Organization, specialized and mandated to function within the framework of the globalized institutions? Isn't there a real danger that the workers' organizations will find themselves integrated in the so-called "world governance"?

We submit these questions to wide discussion within the world labor movement as there are attempts everywhere to force the labor movement to renounce its historic mission of defending the specific interests of wage earners acting solely on the ground of working-class interests."

The Final Declaration of the ILC Conference went on to reaffirm:

"Meeting at the World Conference of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC), we reaffirm our commitment to the labor movement, which was founded upon the notion that the exploiters and the exploited have distinct and irreconcilable interests. From its beginnings, through diverse methods of action, the labor movement has always put forth the need to fight to put an end to the private ownership of the means of production, the very basis of capitalist exploitation.

"The labor movement fights to freely constitute its organizations. It opposes all concepts which in the name of the "new world governance," in the framework of maintaining the regime of private property in the means of production, wants to reduce the role and the function of labor organizations to that of a cog in the system of globalization, thereby fully integrated into it."


"The ILO conventions themselves, are part and parcel of the constitution of political democracy"

Excerpts from the Statement of Decisions of the 12th International "Conference for the Defence of ILO Conventions and the Independence of Trade Union Organizations " (June 12, 2005, Geneva)

In our conference, we discussed the statements to the effect that the ILO would now have to transform itself into a social component of the WTO.

Can it be envisioned that the organized framework of the ILO -- where representatives of the governments, the employers, and the workers have a seat, an arrangement that thereby recognizes the existence of distinct social classes and nation-states -- be transformed? Can it be envisioned to replace it with civil society and the NGOs? This would threaten the universal basis of political democracy.

As we meet in this ILC conference, we declare: To "corporate social responsibility" we counterpose the political responsibility of states and governments within the framework systems rooted in political democracy systems and based on the recognition of the independence of labor organizations. ...

On the international level the following two logics are antagonistic:

- One logic aims to transform the working class movement into a social component of globalization. It stresses corporate social governance -- instead of norms, rights and codified guarantees.

- Another logic is the time-old position of the working-class movement, which states that the working class has no other solution but to fight oppression and exploitation, to organize itself as a class, to defend its organizations, and their independence.

These two logics are opposed to one another.

One, in the name of a new world governance, aims to impose a supranational, totalitarian, and corporatist order destroying the nations and the social gains of the working class.

The other asserts that political democracy implies the right to political and trade union freedom of organization, which recognizes the existence of antagonistic interests in a society that is divided into two antagonistic classes.

We say: The normative systems of the ILO, the ILO conventions themselves, are part and parcel of the constitution of political democracy. We must defend them. It is high time that we returned to strict conventional systems. It's a question of the survival of our civilization.

The ILO is at the crossroads -- the debate is now open. These debates will continue in relation to the preparations of the UN summit and in relation to the agenda of the international trade-union movement.


Excerpts from Recent Documents

"Corporate Social Responsibility" -- the Arcelor Example

The Geneva Conference "In Defense of the ILO Conventions and Trade Union Independence" alerted the international movement to the dangers of what is called "corporate social responsibility" for the independence of the workers' movement, the defense of workers rights, labor codes, and collective bargaining agreements.

What is the content of this concept? Let's look at an example: An agreement has just been signed between the International Metal Workers Federation (FIOM), the European Federation of Metal Workers (FEM) and the administration of the Arcelor company concerning the "social responsibility" of the company.

Arcelor - a "group leader" in its principal markets (auto, construction, household appliances, packing, and general industry) - is the number one steel producer in Europe and Latin America. It employs 95,000 people in more than 60 countries. It had a sales turnover of 30 million Euros in 2004.

Everybody welcomed this agreement. Guy Dollé, the director of human resources for Arcelor, declared that, "This agreement will help us create a durable international plan." Rob Johnston, of the FIOM, greeted the agreement, "which specifies in a clear manner how the company must respect workers on a world scale," and added that "this agreement is the first of its kind in the iron and steel industries." For Peter Scherrer of the FEM, "Arcelor has raised the standard for corporate social responsibility. We hope to see other steel and iron companies follow this example." (Source: Arcelor communiqué)

The beginning of this agreement presents itself in a "friendly" manner, referencing the fundamental rights of the ILO (no gender discrimination, prohibition of child and forced labor, right to association, right to collective bargaining), but it must be recalled that this has no constraining character, because it is not a agreement signed between states and the national union organizations.

But this "friendly" and "ethical" façade aims to hide the essential content of the agreement -- which is to ensure the "profitability of the company"!

The agreement states that it is necessary "to ensure an equilibrium between growth, economic profitability, and social and environmental well-being."

But the need to ensure the profitability of the company has led to the closing-down of the factory in Liege, Belgium and is leading to having a new closing planned in Lorraine, France.

Social well-being? What do the thousands of workers who were laid off due to mergers and off-shoring think about this? Arcelor went from having 108,000 workers in 2003 to 94,900 in 2005!

From 1981 to 1995, 110 billion in public funds in France were given to Arcelor to get rid of more than 100,000 jobs throughout the world. In 1995, the nationalized enterprise was privatized, at the price of 11 billion. Since then, the shareholders, that is, the pension funds, made 35 billion in profits at Arcelor.

"Arcelor is committed to anticipating, to the extent possible, the economic and industrial evolutions and their consequences concerning human resources. The establishment of a permanent social dialogue will facilitate this principal of anticipation. Arcelor considers that social dialogue is a key element of success. The union federations commit to promoting in the unions represented at Arcelor the development of a spirit of long term partnership and reciprocal responsibility."

"Anticipate through social dialogue"?

What does it mean to jointly anticipate "economic evolutions"? After having liquidated the "hot phase," Arcelor is not foreseeing the closing of the "cold units," the coastal factories in Europe, through off-shoring.

The agreement thus demands that the union organizations work together with Arcelor should co-organize the adaptation to globalization, that is, new mergers, off-shoring, and lay-offs.

Under an "ethical" cover of a "just globalization," these union federations are supposed to cease to defend the specific interests of the wage workers, in the framework of a "partnership" to co-organize new lay-offs, assuring more profits for Arcelor? Is this "the new governance"? Who would dare claim that this is anything other than corporatism?

- Document


THE STATUTES OF THE NEW WORLD FEDERATION

We are publishing below a few excerpts from the "principles" of the statutes of the "new world federation" which were presented to the 26h Congress of the WCL.


"The federation wants to be the united and pluralist organization representative of the world labor-union movement; it affiliates the democratic, free and independent trade unions, respecting the diversity of the sources of inspiration and their forms of organization. It assumes the heritage of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and of the World Confederation of Labor."

In one of the resolutions adopted by the 26th Congress of the WCL, it is indicated: "The Congress takes note of the reference made to a 'foundation' to ensure the safeguarding of the unique historical heritage of the WCL based on a spiritual vision and values, a reference which one finds in the working paper ICFTU-WCL on the creation of a new international trade-union organization."

Comment: It thus is clear that the new "world federation" adopts the spiritual values "of the Christian trade unionism," founded on the "social doctrines of the Church." Also, let us note that it is proposed that the trade unions, and not the confederations, affiliate to the new "federation."

"The federation is convinced that to promote these values a trade unionism of social transformation it is necessary to work for a new democratic governance of globalization, with the goal of the creation of a more humane and just social and economic order through reform, democratization, and coherence in the actions of the multilateral institutions."

Comment: What is the "democratic governance"? The resolution specifies: It acts "to promote a major reform aiming to democratize the international institutions of the United Nations (UN) and to work for the transformation of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO so that their policies promote development." Can the goal of a trade-union organization be "to democratize" the great international financial institutions?


EUROPEAN WORKERS CONFERENCE, FEBRUARY 25 AND 26, 2006, BERLIN

In their invitation to the European Conference they are organizing in Berlin, on February 25 and 26, the German worker militants address both the labor activists in the East and West of Europe. We are publishing their contribution.


GERMANY

Is there any other solution than the nationalization of Samsung?

Germany is at the junction between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe. Amongst us there are workers who come from both what we call the East and the West. The capitalists want to have us fight each other, but we won't let them!

With the extension of Europe to the 25-plus countries, they want to subject us workers to even more pressure to dismantle our collective bargaining agreements, social protection, and workers' rights.

Eastern Germany is in the process of becoming a "labor desert." They have put there zones without unions and without labor contracts, jobs paying one euro an hour, slave labor conditions, and this situation is spreading throughout Germany.

The demagogues speculate about poverty and misery because they want to make us workers fight against each other, because they want to dismantle the working class, and spread the poison of xenophobia.

But they won't succeed because we have already gone through the experience of the "extension to the East" of the European Union. This gives us a very good idea of all this.

In the cities of the eastern Landers, our children are no longer able to find work. They are forced to immigrate to the West, where they work as cheap labor in precarious and deregulated jobs; they are used by the bosses to destroy even more the collective bargaining agreements which are at the base of our social system.

And they dare to try to create conflicts between the people from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Baltic countries, and Ukrainians - all of whom are exploited by profit-hungry capitalists.

Let's take the example of a state enterprise in the East, in East Berlin, the electronic television factory (WK). The privatization, after 1989, cut the number of employees from 8,000 to 800; the company now belongs to Samsung.

After Samsung extorted for years enormous profits from its workers and received 30 million in state handouts, this corporations now wants to close down the factory. The SPD-PDS Berlin Senate's calls for "social responsibility" on the part of private companies were shown to be nothing more than treacherous illusions. Is there any other solution than the nationalization of the factory, in order to save jobs and the enterprise itself?

Let's take the example of the hospitals in Hamburg. All of the hospitals, with its 12,600 jobs, were privatized. At the same time, they have withdrawn from from the hospital business of Hamburg (gathering the remaining hospitals of lesser sizes), and, finally, from the municipal CHU (6,000 jobs), thus removing themselves from all the collective agreements, so as to lengthen the duration of the work day, to reduce the wages and to worsen all the working conditions and to be able to carry out lay-offs.

Is there any other solution than to demand the immediate re-municipalization of the hospital?

Should the people cease to struggle for this objective, cease to struggle to save the 12,000 threatened jobs, all because it is necessary to respect the destructive decisions of Brussels? No way!


TURKEY

TUPRAS is our future, it can't be sold off!

The struggle continues against the privatization of TUPRAS, Turkey's biggest industrial company and the most important oil refinery in the country and the region.

For more than 10 years, the Turkish working class has led with its unions an important struggle against privatization. Through this struggle it has succeeded to a certain extent in slowing down the privatization offensive.

However, the last government in Turkey, which came to power in the 2002 elections, has accelerated -- with the support of the United States -- the privatization offensive. It has completely destroyed the SEKA paper-production industries. Now they want to pillage through privatizations Türk Telekom, Seydisehir Aluminium, and the steel companies Ergli, Iskanderun, and TUPRAS.

They are in the process of pillaging our natural resources and completely destroying agricultural production. Pétrol-Is, the union at TUPRAS, opposed the war in Iraq, raising the slogan, "The war in Iraq is an operation of privatization!" And now they have called for united and unconditional union struggle to stop this offensive.

All of this takes place as part of an international offensive against the workers and oppressed peoples through privatizations, through the destruction of social protection, and through the de-unionization.

Against this offensive, in defense of the workers' organizations which are independent from Capital and the state, we invite all to support the campaign of Petrol-is around the slogan, "TUPRAS is our future, it can't be sold off!"


AFRICA

Questions concerning the Bamako Summit

"Africa will burn and will be destroyed in the next 25 years," (Alpha Oumar Konaré)

According to the final communiqué, the 23rd Conference of African and French heads of state had as its central theme: "African young people: their vitality, their creativity, and their aspirations."

With a certain realism, the president of the commission of the African Union, Malien Alpha Oumar Konaré, indicated the general context in which the conference took place: "Africa will burn and will be destroyed in the next 25 years. Today, we have hundreds of thousands of people wandering in the bush and the desert, trying to find a way out; soon, they will be a million, because Africa is sinking deeper everyday."

The main fact attesting to this reality is that not a word, not a line, in this declaration mentions the causes of this desperate situation. While mentioning that "the African youth make up two thirds of the continent," the resolution also fails to mention the recent United Nations report on Western Africa, which notes that at least 60% of young people under 30 years of age are unemployed and without a future.

This is due to the fact that these are the people who determine the fate of Africa and who, through the foreign debt of the African countries, empty the funds of these states, destroy the public services, and pillage the natural resources -- all while they claim they are reducing poverty.

It is in this framework that they announced "solutions" and "promises," such as facilitation of delivery of long-term visas for "entrepreneurs, executives, researchers, professors, artists."

A first step? A beginning of the solution? Let's take the example of health care. (Read below.)

Another proposal was made at this summit: development aid. We'll pass over the indecency consisting in giving "aid" to the very same people who you are doing everything to impoverish, destroy, and pillage. This has always been the role of charity. Let's look at this aid itself.

In January 2005, at the U.N. summit, the director of the United Nation's Development Program expressed his concern at the fact that the goal of cutting the level of extreme poverty in half by 2015 wouldn't be reached. The donor countries set these goal in the 1990s. In order to so, it would have been necessary that the industrialized countries raise their development aid to 0,33 % of the GDP (70 billion dollars) in 2004, 0,44 % (135 billion dollars) in 2006 and 0,54 % (195 billion dollars) in 2015.

The hypocrisy of this discourse about the struggle against poverty is thus exposed. One the one hand, these countries give "aid" (less than their promised amount!), on the other hand, these countries pillage the same countries.

UNICEF noted the following: "The world military expenses are more than 550 billion dollars per year, while the estimated amount needed to eradicate poverty throughout the world is about 50 billion dollars per year, which would mean only a 5% reduction in the defense budget."

The proposals of France, as well as the other countries, even with the financial promises for 2012, remain only charity.

But could it be any different? At this summit, France, as well as the 51 representatives of the African states, shared one thing in common: They are all component parts of the IMF, of the World Bank, of the international institutions, who, in their absolute respect for the private ownership of the means of production, through the debt, the structural adjustment plans, good governance, and NEPAD - meant only to privatize and pillage Africa - are responsible for the fact that "Africa will burn and will be destroyed in the next 25 years. Today, we have hundreds of thousands of people wandering in the bush and the desert, trying to find a way out; soon, they will be a million, because Africa is sinking deeper everyday."

Is there any other way to save Africa from the chaos prepared for it by the great international powers and institutions other than to demand, as the International Tribune on Africa did during the Madrid conference in March, 2004, the unconditional cancellation of the debt?

- Correspondent


The example of health care

Even people who lack specific statistics understand the catastrophic situation of African health care. As for the heads of state, they can't ignore the recent World Bank report which reports that:

- Of the 600 doctors educated in Zambia, only 50 remain in the country;
- Out of the 489 graduates of Ghana's medical school, in ten years, 298 left to live abroad;
- In Ethiopia, 30% of the doctors left between 1988 and 2001;
- There are more Nigerian doctors in New York than in all of Nigeria;
- There is more medical personnel from Malawi in Manchester than in all of Malawi.

According to the World Bank, this phenomenon will continue in the coming years and will affect nurses. The United States needs to recruit 500,000 from now to 2015 and the United Kingdom more than 35,000 from now to 2008. Is facilitating long-term visas for "executives, researchers, professors" anything other than a project for systematic pillage? At the same time, we are seeing hoards of NGOs come into our countries, which are "entrusted" with providing health care, to the detriment of the existing services.


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